Departing from Perfect Goodness? The tetragonōs and the hugiēs man in Plato’s Protagoras
Keywords:Plato, Protagoras, Moral virtue
Simonides’ well known Ode to Scopas, which Plato introduces in the Protagoras, provides fertile ground for a discussion of two different forms of human goodness: on the one hand, the excellence embodied by the perfectly good man (τετράγωνος ἀνήρ); on the other hand, a less perfect form of goodness, which is the one embodied by the “healthy man” (ὑγιὴς ἀνήρ). This essay will critically address the shift from perfect to imperfect goodness and its underlying reasons. More specifically, I will argue that the distinctive goodness of the “healthy man” can be identified with a form of “minimal political decency”. As such, this can be praised only in comparison to a condition of lawlessness.
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